(KION) This month, Pandemic EBT cards will be delivered to homes across the state. It's an effort to help the children in California who rely on meals they normally receive at school. The Pandemic EBT card is aimed towards families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals while schools are closed due to the pandemic.
"As schools are closed, kids are going hungry," says policy advocate Jessica Bartholow with Western Center on Law & Poverty.
Families who receive CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or foster care benefits do not need to apply. Most will get their Pandemic EBT card in the mail this month an the card will work exactly like others.
"But the card people are going to get is going to look different. It will say on it Pandemic EBT. It's a black or dark blue card with white letters and they're going to get it in the mail," says Bartholow.
The Pandemic EBT was a proposal passed through the families first act. Families will get up to $365 per eligible child for food and groceries. Activists say it's not a lot, but it's something.
"It can help not just put food on the table, but also help families stretch their budgets that are obviously really tight right now," says Jared Call with California Food Policy Advocates.
The Pandemic EBT is additional assistance and not a replacement of any other benefit, including meals available for pick-up in the community or at schools.
"Schools have done a really good job of really being on the front lines of providing meals in a grab and go scenario for people. That Pandemic EBT is not intended to be a replacement for those meals or in lieu of, it's very much meant to compliment those meals," says Call.
State officials estimate about 3.9 million children in california will be eligible for the benefit. Meanwhile, advocates in the state are hoping for more help from the federal government.
"We're counting on congress, both the senate and the house to make sure the next Covid relief act includes investments in our anti hunger infrastructure. in America nobody should go hungry, not even in a pandemic," says Bartholow.
Eligible families can expect the card in their mailbox at some point this month. Those who don't receive it and are eligible must apply online before June 30th 2020. The online application will launch on the Department of Social Service's website later this month.